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Groundline conveyor solves material transport challenge

Recently, the aggregate equipment manager for a US-based construction aggregate producer faced a material transport challenge ? that of finding a short term, yet cost-effective way to move material from the crushing plant to a wash plant ? a distance that had steadily grown to 305 metres (or 1000 feet) as the pit neared depletion.

After the site was sold, the equipment manager and his team had only two months to pull as much material from the deposit before a mid-summer deadline to vacate. Initially, his material handling options included using haul trucks, or assembling more than a dozen shorter transfer conveyors. Neither strategy fit the bill.

Haul trucks were far too costly and labour-intensive, and stringing together a number of transfer conveyors meant taking units from locations where they were better utilised.

{{image2-a:l-w:200}}Fortunately for the manager, a timely solution came in the availability and rental of a first of its kind portable overland conveying system ? the Trailblazer conveyor, designed and manufactured by US-based Superior Industries. A highly unique innovation, the new material handling system includes 153m (500ft) of fully-belted and assembled groundline conveyor in a mobile, one-load, towable package.

Compared to a traditional, stationary groundline conveyor which would require days or even weeks for set-up and tear down, Superior?s Trailblazer conveyor allows rapid deployment from the road to working status in just about an hour.

With a gravity-style take-up built into the trailer structure, the Trailblazer conveyor simply folds in or out in an accordion fashion from its chassis with a minimal crew required to position the supports.

?We had never really seen anything like it before, and it has been very exciting to experience set-up of the system,? said the equipment manager, who added that Superior Industries sent out an engineering and service team to assist in the initial set-up which involved ?choreographing? a crew of four to five people to perform certain tasks.

 ?Once we understood how the system works, how to co-ordinate the crew and where all the components need to line up, we could see how easy it would be to set it up the next time,? he said.

Jarrod Felton, Superior Industries engineering manager, was on-site when the Trailblazer conveyor arrived for set-up. ?Of our five-man set-up crew, we had one worker communicating with the truck operator, another worker to handle the transport straps and pull-pins for each conveyor section, and two workers to position the supports,? said Felton, who explained that a string line was put in place to guide the truck operator so that the system remained in proper alignment.

?Although we do have alignment tools on the system, such as self-aligning idlers and Navigator Return Trainers, we want to ensure that alignment is correct at all the hinge points. This eliminates any belt tracking issues. It?s very easy to ensure proper alignment if you?re paying attention to alignment,? he said.

The Trailblazer conveyor is also designed to accommodate variations in grade. At this particular site, the system is set to convey material up a 12-degree incline and over an embankment, which could be accomplished via its standard 37.3kW (50HP) drive.

?Variations in grade dictate the size of the drive required, and the hinges on the channel sections can handle significant changes in grade as long as the drive is sized accordingly,? said Felton.

Knife River placed an existing transfer conveyor to feed material from the crusher to the 153m (500ft) Trailblazer conveyor. From there, material is conveyed to Superior Industries Slide-Pac conveyors (which were also part of the total rental package) before being fed to an existing stacker which stockpiles at the wash plant.

The Slide-Pac conveyor is a three-unit system providing up to 73m (240ft) of conveyors in one load. ?We were new to the Slide-Pac conveyors as well and it is their safety aspect that really impressed us,? said the site manager.

{{image3-a:r-w:200}}?We?ve had stackable-type conveyors, but they need to be lifted off the chassis either with a forklift or a loader. The Slide-Pac conveyor is designed with a roll-style slide-off system for safety and ease in unloading. Set-up takes just minutes.?

He added that the portable groundline system is also designed for safe operation. The transport straps and pull-pins ensure that each conveyor section comes off the chassis, in order, one at a time, as it is guided carefully onto the supports. Additionally, the system features a modular take-up design with bolt-together guard rails that pin into place.?

As to the entire material handling set-up, the equipment manager explained that it was really the best solution. ?We will definitely rent a Trailblazer conveyor again as the need arises. The crew really likes it.

With the portable system, they have one conveyor to watch ? one feed point and one discharge point. We eliminated the multiple transfer points from more than a dozen conveyors ? each transfer point being a potential clean-up point and a definite greasing point.

That saved us maintenance time. We?re also saving on energy costs by having one conveyor drive versus up to 14 drives to power. And importantly, we eliminated the operating costs of haul trucks. It?s all about cutting operating costs ? for equipment, energy, maintenance and labour,? he said.

Superior Industries conveyors are distributed in Australia by Global Crushers & Spares (east coast), 888 Screening & Crushing (west coast) and Mobile Conveying Systems (east coast).

Source: Superior Industries

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